Twenty-six-year-old Booth was one of the most famous actors in the country when he shot Lincoln during a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on the night of April 14. Booth was a Maryland native and a strong supporter of the Confederacy. As the war entered its final stages, Booth hatched a conspiracy to kidnap the president. He enlisted the aid of several associates, but the opportunity never presented itself.
Booth changed the plan to a simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson,
and Secretary of State William Seward. Only Lincoln was actually killed, however.
Seward was stabbed by Lewis Paine but miraculously, he survived with multiple injuries and damage, while the man assigned to kill Johnson did not carry out his assignment.
After shooting Lincoln, Booth jumped to the stage below Lincoln’s box seat. He landed hard, breaking his leg, before escaping to a waiting horse behind the theater. Many in the audience recognized Booth, so the army was soon hot on his trail.
Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, made their way across the Anacostia River and headed toward southern
Maryland. The pair stopped at Dr. Samuel Mudd‘s home, and Mudd treated Booth’s leg. This earned Mudd a life sentence in prison when he was implicated as part of the conspiracy, but the sentence was later commuted.
It also led to Dr. Mudd’s name going down in history as the originator of the phrase, “your name is mud” to denote someone as a scapegoat.nd refuge for several days at the home of Thomas A. Jones, a Confederate agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac to Virginia.
Booth found refuge for several days at the home of Thomas A. Jones, a Confederate agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac to Virginia. After receiving aid from several Confederate sympathizers, Booth’s luck finally ran out. The countryside was swarming with military units looking for Booth, although few shared information since there was a $20,000 reward. While staying at the farm of Richard Garrett, Federal troops arrived on their search but soon rode on. The unsuspecting Garrett allowed his suspicious guests to sleep in his barn, but he instructed his son to lock the barn from the outside to prevent the strangers from stealing his horses. A tip led the Union soldiers back to the Garrett farm, where they discovered Booth and Herold in the barn. Herold came out, but Booth refused. The building was set on fire to flush Booth, but he was reportedly shot by trooper Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett while still inside.
He lived for three hours before gazing at his hands, muttering “Useless, useless,” as he died.
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Today, in 1865, at 7:22 a.m., President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, dies
from an assassin’s bullet. Lincoln had lived for a long nine hours before finally succumbing to the severe head wound he sustained at Ford’s Theater in Washington the night before. An angry Con-federate actor and radical Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, had
shot Lincoln in the back of the head while the presidential party had been attending Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in Our American Cousin at a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. the night before.
Booth, who had remained in the North during the war despite his Confederate sympathies, had orig-inally intended only to capture President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, the president failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Even worse news lay ahead, as two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth had hatched a desperate plan to save the Confederacy.
Learning that Lincoln was to attend Ford’s Theater on April 14, Booth plotted the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into a paralyzing disarray.
On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private theater box unnoticed and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head. Slashing an army officer who rushed at him, Booth leapt to the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis! [Thus always to tyrants]–the South is avenged!” Although Booth broke his leg jumping from Lincoln’s box, he managed to escape Washington on horseback. A 23-year-old doctor named Charles Leale was in the audience and rushed up to the presidential box immediately upon hearing the shot and Mrs. Lincoln’s scream. He found the president slumped in his chair, paralyzed and struggling to breathe. Several soldiers carried Lincoln to a house across the street and placed him on a bed. When the surgeon general arrived at the house, he concluded that Lincoln could not be saved and would die during the night.
Vice President Andrew Johnson, members of Lincoln’s cabinet and several of the president’s closest friends stood vigil by Lincoln’s bedside until he was officially pronounced dead at 7:22 am. The first lady lay on a bed in an adjoining room with her eldest son Robert at her side, overwhelmed with shock and grief.
The president’s body was placed in a temporary coffin, draped with a flag and escorted by armed cavalry to the White House, where surgeons conducted a thorough autopsy. Edward Curtis, an Army surgeon in attendance, later wrote that, during the autopsy, while he removed Lincoln’s brain, a bullet dropped out through my fingers into a basin with a clatter. The doctors stopped to stare at the offending bullet, the cause of such mighty changes in the world’s history as we may perhaps never realize. During the autopsy, Mary Lincoln sent the surgeons a note requesting they cut a lock of Lincoln’s hair for her.
Booth, pursued by the army and secret service forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Another story, and the one that is more commonly believed, is that he was killed by one of the soldiers, Boston Corbett, who shot Booth through the openings between the slats in the burning tobacco barn. Of the eight other persons eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were jailed (including the doctor, Samuel Mudd, who added his name to popular lexicon as a synonym for losing popular support) and four were hanged, including a woman and the mother of one of the co-conspirators, Mary Surrat.
The president’s death came only six days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War. Lincoln had just served the most difficult presidency in history, successfully leading the country through civil war. His job was exhausting and overwhelming at times. He had to manage a tre-mendous military effort, deal with diverse opinions in his own Republican party, counter his Demo-cratic critics, maintain morale on the northern home front, and keep foreign countries such as France and Great Britain from recognizing the Confederacy. He did all of this, and changed American history when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, converting the war goal from reunion of the nation to a crusade to end slavery.
Now, the great man was dead. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton said, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” Word spread quickly across the nation, stunning a people who were still celebrating the Union vic-tory. Troops in the field wept, as did General Ulysses S. Grant, the overall Union commander. Per-haps no group was more grief stricken than the freed slaves. Although the abolitionists considered Lincoln slow in moving against slavery, many freedmen saw “Father Abraham” as their savior. They faced an uncertain world, and now had lost their most powerful proponent.
News of the president’s death had traveled quickly and, by the end of the day, flags across the country flew at half-staff, businesses were closed and people who had recently rejoiced at the end of the Civil War mourned Lincoln’s shocking assassination. Lincoln’s funeral was held on April 19, before a funeral train carried his body back to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. During the two-week journey, hundreds of thousands gathered along the railroad tracks to pay their respects, and the casket was unloaded for public viewing at several stops. He and his son, Willie, who died in the White House of typhoid fever in 1862, were interred on May 4.
His body was taken to the White House, where it lay until April 18, at which point it was carried to the Capitol rotunda to lay in state on a catafalque. On April 21, Lincoln’s body was taken to the railroad station and boarded on a train that conveyed it to Springfield, Illinois, his home be-fore becoming president. Tens of thousands of Americans lined the train’s railroad route and paid their respects to their fallen leader during the train’s solemn progression through the North. Lincoln was buried on May 4, 1865, at Oak Ridge Cemetery, near Springfield.
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April 14: This is going to be a special presentation today, because there were two disasters that I have always been fascinated by that took place on this day in history. I have been trying to make up my mind which one to highlight since the first of the year, and now it is today and I still can’t decide. So, I decided to present both of them.
at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War.
Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in Our American Cousin at a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. the night before.
General Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant had been invited first, but Julia Grant did not like Mrs. Lincoln and told her husband they were going instead to visit their children in Vermont. This decision very likely saved Grant’s life. Lincoln didn’t press the issue, because he knew Mary was very jealous of the attention Mrs. Grant would show him. Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris,the daughter of
New York Senator Ira Harris were subsequently asked and they accepted the fateful invitation. The tragedy didn’t stop there for Major Harris. He could never shake off the guilt he felt for failing to protect the President, and eighteen years later, he ended up killing his wife and trying to stab himself several times, and he died in a hospital for the criminally insane.
Booth, a Maryland native born in 1838, who remained in the North during the war despite his Con-federate sympathies, had initially plotted only to capture President Lincoln and smuggle him into Richmond, the Confederate capital, to trade for peace and the victory. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, the president failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Con-federate armies near collapse across the South, Booth hatched a desperate plan to save the Confed-eracy. Learning that Lincoln was to attend Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater on April 14, Booth masterminded the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and
Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to
throw the U.S. government into disarray and avenge the South’s loss of the war. On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell
broke into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him, his son and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 pm., Booth entered Lincoln’s private theater box unnoticed and shot the
president with a single bullet in the back of his head. Slashing at Major Rathbone’s arm, Booth leapt to the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis! [Thus always to tyrants]–the South is avenged!” Although Booth broke his leg jumping from Lincoln’s box, he managed to escape Washington on horseback.
Booth, was pursued by the army and secret service forces, until he was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Another story, and the one more commonly believed, is that he was killed by a soldier, Boston Corbett, who shot Booth through the openings between the slats in the burning tobacco barn.
Of the eight other persons eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were jailed (including the doctor who set Booth’s leg, broken in his jump to the stage, Samuel Mudd, who later added his name to
popular lexicon as a synonym for losing popular support) and four were hanged, including a woman and the mother of one of the co-conspirators, Mary Surrat. There was nothing but circumstantial evidence against her, because her son had been involved with Booth.
The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, Lincoln, age 56, died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president, was buried on May 4, 1865, in Springfield, Illinois.
Just before midnight in the North Atlantic, the RMS Titanic fails to divert its course from an iceberg, ruptures its hull, and begins to sink. The lookout hadn’t see the iceberg, despite the warnings, because he had no binoculars – the officer on duty before him had taken them with him. The wind was very still, so the water didn’t show up against the iceberg. He didn’t see it until they were almost on top of it, and a ship as big as the Titanic took a lot of time to make a turn.
Four days earlier, the Titanic, one of the largest and most luxurious ocean liners ever built, departed Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. While leaving port, the massive ship came within a couple of feet of the steamer New York but passed safely by, causing a general sigh of relief from the passengers massed on the ship’s decks.
The Titanic was designed by the Thomas Andrews, and built in the great Harland and Wolf docks. It spanned 883 feet from stern to bow. Its hull was divided into 16 compartments that were presumed to be watertight. Because four of these compartments could be flooded without causing a critical loss of buoyancy, the Titanic was considered unsinkable. The bulkhead doors did not go all the way to the top, because to do that, it would have cut into the deck space of the first class passengers. On its first journey across the highly competitive Atlantic ferry route, the ship carried some 2,200 passengers and crew.
After stopping at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, to pick up some final passengers, the massive vessel set out at full speed for New York City. However, just before midnight on April 14, the ship hit an iceberg, and five of the Titanic‘s compartments were ruptured along its starboard side. At about 2:20 a.m. on the morning of April 15, the massive vessel sank into the North Atlantic.
Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. Most of the approximately 700 survivors were women and children. A number of notable American and British citizens died in the tragedy, including the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus, Astor, and Guggenheim fortunes. The announcement of details of the disaster led to outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. The sinking of the Titanic did have some positive effects, however, as more stringent safety regulations were adopted on public ships, and regular patrols were initiated to trace the locations of deadly Atlantic icebergs.
Lincoln, consistently one of America’s most admired presidents – if not the most admired, grew up a member of a poor family in Kentucky and Indiana. His mother died when he was 8, and he never had a good relationship with his father. In fact, when his father died in 1851, he never went back for the funeral. He attended formal schooling for only one year, but thereafter read on his own in a continual effort to improve his mind. It worked. Abraham Lincoln is the only President to hold a patent. As an adult, he lived in Illinois and performed a variety of jobs including stints as a post-master, surveyor and shopkeeper, before entering politics. He served in the Illinois legislature from 1834 to 1836, and then became an attorney. In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd; together, the pair raised four sons.
Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, a time when the nation’s long-standing division over slavery was flaring up, particularly in new territories being added to the Union. As leader of the new Republican Party, Lincoln was considered politically moderate, even on the issue of slavery. He advocated the restriction of slavery to the states in which it already existed and described the practice in a letter as a minor issue as late as 1854. In an 1858 senatorial race, as secessionist sentiment brewed among the southern states, he warned, a house divided against itself cannot stand. He did not win the Senate seat but earned national recognition as a strong political force. Lincoln’s inspiring oratory soothed a populace anxious about southern states’ secessionist threats and boosted his popularity.
As a presidential candidate in the election of 1860, Lincoln tried to reassure slaveholding interests that although he favored abolition, he had no intention of ending the practice in states where it already existed and prioritized saving the Union over freeing slaves. When he won the presidency by approximately 400,000 popular votes and carried the Electoral College, he was in effect handed a ticking time bomb. His concessions to slaveholders failed to prevent South Carolina from leading other states in an exodus from the Union that began shortly after his election. By February 1, 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas had also seceded. Soon after, the Civil War began.
As the war progressed, Lincoln moved closer to committing himself and the nation to the abolitionist movement and, in 1863, finally signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The document freed slaves in the Confederate states, but did not address the legality of slavery in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska or Arkansas.
Lincoln was the tallest president at 6′ 4. As a young man, he impressed others with his sheer physical strength–he was a legendary wrestler in Illinois–and entertained friends and strangers alike with his dry, folksy wit, which was still in evidence years later. Exasperated by one Civil War military defeat after another, Lincoln wrote to a lethargic general (George B, McClellan) “If you are not using the army I should like to borrow it for awhile”. An animal lover, Lincoln once declared, “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” Fittingly, a variety of pets took up resi-dence at the Lincoln White House, including a pet turkey named Jack and a goat called Nanko. Lincoln’s son Tad frequently hitched Nanko to a small wagon and drove around the White House grounds. Lincoln’s sense of humor may have helped him to hide recurring bouts of depression. He admitted to friends and colleagues that he suffered from intense melancholia and hypochondria most of his adult life. Perhaps in order to cope with it, Lincoln engaged in self-effacing humor, even chiding himself about his famously homely looks. When an opponent in an 1858 Senate race debate called him two-faced, he replied, “If I had another face do you think I would wear this one?”
Lincoln is usually remembered as The Great Emancipator. Although he often waffled on the subject of slavery in the early years of his presidency, his greatest legacy was his work to preserve the Union and his signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. To Confederate sympathizers, however, Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation reinforced his image as a hated despot and ultimately led John Wilkes Booth to assassinate him on April 14, 1865.
President Lincoln’s favorite horse, Old Bob, pulled his funeral hearse.
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Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com
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